Chef Sean Brock is a revivalist. For more than a decade, he has been driven by a constant desire to research, restore and celebrate heirloom Southern ingredients that had fallen by the wayside or were even thought to be extinct. His distinct point of view and tireless work ethic made him one of the most successful and respected chefs in the South. But last year, everything changed.
While Sean was running three award-winning restaurants and relentlessly pursuing perfection, years of self-neglect began to take its toll. Sean’s friends and family intervened, and Sean acknowledged he needed to get help. He spent six weeks at an Arizona treatment center earlier this year working through issues with alcohol and stress. On-site counselors diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder from multiple incidents of trauma and years of stress in the kitchen.
Sean wears the Italian Wool Shawl Collar Sweater in Camel, the Brushed Button-Down in Heather Grey Plaid, and Off-Duty Chinos in Faded Green.
Today, after completely reevaluating the way he lives, Sean is back in the kitchen. Now, his true work has begun, teaching people in the culinary business how to take care of themselves and that it’s okay to ask for help. The culinary industry has been plagued by alcoholism and substance abuse because of its long hours and stress-inducing lifestyle. Sean recognizes that he isn’t alone in this battle. He has devoted himself to a new lifestyle of inner-healing, relaxation and limiting his sources of stress with the same dedication that drove him to seek out, revive, and honor forgotten grains of the South.
Sean’s revivalist journey began with Southern ingredients and has expanded to helping others manage the pressures of the modern kitchen. “Forget cooking shrimp and grits,” he said. “I have this opportunity in front of me. If I can inspire people to take better care of themselves in this industry, that will be my greatest contribution.”
Photographed by Jason Frank Rothenberg